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AHIS 3698: American Monument Cultures

About this Guide

Research guide for American Monument Cultures

This guide has a selection of key resources for conducting research on the historic and contemporary context of American monuments. In this guide you will find the following:

  • Resources to find background information  (see below)
  • Historic and contemporary news sources
  • Audio collections for rights free music and sound effects
  • Relevant library and archival collections
  • Places to find books in print and online
  • Useful peer reviewed journal databases
  • Resources for citing your sources and writing

Other Useful Guides:

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Image: Tony Webster, Christopher Columbus Statue - Minnesota State Capitol, Photograph, June 10, 2020.

Finding Background Information

Finding Reliable Background or "Tombstone" Information Online

NYC Parks Permanent Art and Monuments Database

The New York City Parks Department's Permanent Art and Monuments Database offers reliable tombstone information to help you begin your search. As stewards of all the monuments in New York City, this database is a verified source for basic information on your monument.


As the world's largest encyclopedia, Wikipedia's coverage is vast. You are more likely to find articles on obscure topics in Wikipedia than you would anywhere else. But is Wikipedia accurate? While Wikipedia can be edited by anyone in the world (including you!), scholarly encyclopedias like Encyclopedia Britannica are written and edited by experts in their fields. However, 2005 study in the journal Nature weighed the accuracy of science articles on Wikipedia against the more scholarly  Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia was found to be nearly as accurate in the 42 articles investigated. Encyclopedia Britannica refuted these claims. When using Wikipedia, or any encyclopedia for that matter, it is wise to verify what you find.

Strengths of Wikipedia

  • Wikipedia is updated frequently. New information can be, and often is, added to the site within minutes. Due to editorial limitations, scholarly encyclopedias are usually updated annually. 
  • Because Wikipedia crowd sourced, there is the potential for a broader authorship than is found in academic publications. 
  • Citations in Wikipedia offer a wider array of materials, including articles and resources that are available for free and online.

Weaknesses of Wikipedia

  • Editors on Wikipedia are not necessarily experts. Authorship on Wikipedia is often anonymous or obscured.
  • Articles are always changing, making them difficult to cite in your research. An article you read today, may look quite different tomorrow.
  • Articles can be vandalized, providing wildly inaccurate information.

Ways to use Wikipedia

  • Use Wikipedia to get a general idea about a topic you are interested in.
  • Wikipedia is great for generating keywords for further searching in CLIO and elsewhere.
  • Check the citations, recommended resources and external links to guide you to more scholarly work.

Wikipedia Pages of Interest

Scholarly Encyclopedias

Similar to Wikipedia, these resources provide an overview on a given topic, but the authors are experts in the fields they are covering. Below you will find a few general encyclopedia collections with coverage across a wide variety of fields. 


[image] Suze Meyers, Feminist Wikipedia, 2016.